In 2021, online-born businesses invested £1 billion in TV advertising in the UK. They are now the biggest category of advertiser on TV, having increased their investment in TV advertising by 37% since 2019. *
To better understand the boom in online brands on TV, Thinkbox commissioned a new econometric analysis of 10 online businesses that are proven to have used TV advertising to drive their growth (the brands involved in the study are anonymised).
“The TV playbook for online businesses”, the study by business economists Magic Numbers has uncovered vital principles and insights that offer online businesses guidance on when and why to use TV, including:
How TV makes online search work harder
Three signs it is time for TV
What TV-driven impact online businesses can expect
The study also features in-depth, qualitative interviews with marketers who have used TV advertising to drive the growth of online brands, namely Tom Beardmore, Founder, Chamber; Lucas Bergmans, Brand Director, Cazoo; Cheryl Calverley, CEO, eve sleep; Xabi Izaguirre, Marketing Director, Gene; Abba Newberry, CMO, Habito; Chris Seigal, Senior Director, Direct to Consumer, Harry’s; and Simon Wilden, Partner, Goodstuff.
In this study we have unashamedly focussed on online brands that have found success with TV advertising. We did this so that we could learn from them and help other online brands stand on the shoulders of their achievements.Matt Hill, Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director
TV makes search work harder
The study found that TV advertising drives cheaper online journeys because it prompts people to go to the brand directly or search for the brand specifically rather than just the category. Generic paid search (i.e. Googling the category) costs advertisers more than Brand paid search.
Of the online search journeys initiated by TV advertising in the scope of the study:
66% were direct/URL or organic search visits (which carry no additional cost to the advertiser)
20% were paid brand search clicks (which carry a small search cost)
14% were for paid generic searches (which carry the highest search cost)
Magic Numbers also found that TV makes brands more clickable – it has a positive effect on click-through rates in both organic and paid search. For example, analysis of a furniture retailer in the study revealed that as TV investment continued, so did the click through rate for paid brand search – across 3 years of increasing TV investment focussed on driving traffic, they also saw brand search click rate improve from 37.4% to 38.8%.
Online-born businesses know the importance of marketing. They’ve grown up on search and social and seen in their dashboards just how many sales those channels contribute. But even though many of them are now big, most aren’t yet fully comfortable with big-brand marketing strategies like going on TV. And many haven’t started to use econometrics to measure the effect of marketing that isn’t easily trackable. That journey is important because, without it, marketing can only contribute so much growth. This study provides the blueprint for success.Dr Grace Kite, Founder of Magic Numbers
Three signs it’s time for TV
Magic Numbers have identified three signs that an online brand should consider TV advertising:
1. When a brand needs to scale first and fast
For example, the study features a second-hand online car dealership that reached 500,000 visits per week in five months after scaling up its TV spend. TV drove 48% of all visits across this period.
2. When understanding a brand’s proposition makes people more likely to buy
A home gym equipment business with a brand new proposition used TV to reach 200,000 visits per week at a cost per visit 300 times lower than their hero product’s cost.
3. When a brand runs out of efficient online buys
A dieting brand had a peak weekly web traffic of 111,000 visitors and an average of 23,300 prior to trialing TV. Following their TV launch, the peak rose to 378,000 visitors and the average increased to 99,000 visitors.
Unless you land two or three points that explain our product, you're not really going to get people to come to the website with the right level of intent in the first place. And it's hard to deliver those three messages outside of TV.Lucas Bergmans, Brand Director, Cazoo